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The Histories of Herodotus

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The Histories of Herodotus

Histories
Fragment from Histories, Book VIII on 2nd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099
Author Herodotus
Country Greece
Language Ancient Greek
Genre History
Publisher Various
Publication date c. 440 BC

The Histories (also known as The History[1]) of Herodotus is now considered as the founding work of history in Western literature.[2] Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known around the Mediterranean and Western Asia at that time. It is not an impartial record but it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established without precedent the genre and study of history in the Western world, although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand.

It stands as one of the first, and surviving, accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.

The Histories was at some point through the ages divided into the nine books of modern editions, conventionally named after the Muses.

Motivation for writing

Herodotus seems to have traveled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book. At the beginning of The Histories, Herodotus sets out his reasons for writing it:

Template:Cquote

Storyline


Book I (Clio)

  • The rapes of Io, Europa, and Medea, which motivated Paris to abduct Helen. The subsequent Trojan War is marked as a precursor to later conflicts between peoples of Asia and Europe. (Template:Herodotus–5)[3]
  • 1.2.3)
  • The rulers of Lydia (on the west coast of modern Turkey): Candaules, Gyges, Sadyattes, Alyattes, Croesus (Template:Herodotus–7)
  • How Gyges took the kingdom from Candaules (Template:Herodotus–13)
  • The singer Arion's ride on the dolphin (Template:Herodotus–24)
  • Solon's answer to Croesus's question that Tellus was the happiest person in the world (Template:Herodotus–33)
  • Croesus's efforts to protect his son Atys, his son's accidental death by Adrastus (Template:Herodotus–44)
  • Croesus's test of the oracles (Template:Herodotus–54)
  • The answer from the Oracle of Delphi concerning whether Croesus should attack the Persians (famous for its ambiguity): If you attack you will destroy a great empire. (Template:Herodotus–56)
  • Peisistratos' rises and falls from power as tyrant of Athens (Template:Herodotus–64)
  • The rise of Sparta (Template:Herodotus–68)
  • The Battle of Halys; Thales predicts the solar eclipse of May 28, 585 B.C. (Template:Herodotus)
  • Croesus's defeat by Cyrus II of Persia, and how he later became Cyrus's advisor (Template:Herodotus–92)
  • The rulers of the Medes: Deioces, Phraortes, Cyaxares, Astyages, Cyrus II of Persia (Template:Herodotus–144)
  • The rise of Deioces over the Medes
  • Astyages's attempt to destroy Cyrus, and Cyrus's rise to power
  • Harpagus tricked into eating his son, his revenge against Astyages by assisting Cyrus
  • The culture of the Persians
  • The history and geography of the Ionians, and the attacks on it by Harpagus
  • Pactyes' convinces the Lydians to revolt. Rebellion fails and he seeks refuge from Mazares in Cyme (Aeolis)
  • The culture of Assyria, especially the design and improvement of the city of Babylon and the ways of its people
  • Cyrus's attack on Babylon, including his revenge on the river Gyndes and his famous method for entering the city
  • Cyrus's ill-fated attack on the Massagetæ, leading to his death

Book II (Euterpe)

Book III (Thalia)

  • Cambyses II of Persia's (son of Cyrus II and king of Persia) attack on Egypt, and the defeat of the Egyptian king Psammetichus III.
  • Cambyses's abortive attack on Ethiopia
  • The madness of Cambyses
  • The good fortune of Polycrates king of Samos
  • Periander, the king of Corinth and Corcyra, and his obstinate son
  • The revolt of the two Magi in Persia and the death of Cambyses
  • The conspiracy of the seven to remove the Magi
  • The rise of Darius I of Persia.
  • The twenty satrapies
  • The culture of India and their method of collecting gold
  • The culture of Arabia and their method of collecting spices
  • The flooded valley with five gates
  • Orœtes's (governor of Sardis) scheme against Polycrates
  • The physician Democêdes
  • The rise of Syloson governor of Samos
  • The revolt of Babylon and its defeat by the scheme of Zopyrus


Book IV (Melpomene)


Book V (Terpsichore)

Book VI (Erato)

  • The order of Darius that the Greeks provide him earth and water, in which most consent, including Aegina
  • The Athenian request for assistance of Cleomenes of Sparta in dealing with the traitors
  • The history behind Sparta having two kings and their powers
  • The dethronement of Demaratus, the other king of Sparta, due to his supposed false lineage
  • The arrest of the traitors in Aegina by Cleomenes and the new king Leotychides
  • The suicide of Cleomenes in a fit of madness, possibly caused by his war with Argos, drinking unmixed wine, or his involvement in dethroning Demaratus
  • The battle between Aegina and Athens
  • The taking of Eretria by the Persians after the Eretrians sent away Athenian help
  • Pheidippides's encounter with the god Pan on a journey to Sparta to request aid
  • The assistance of the Plataeans, and the history behind their alliance with Athens
  • The Athenian win at the Battle of Marathon, led by Miltiades and other strategoi
  • The Spartans late arrival to assist Athens
  • The history of the Alcmaeonidae and how they came about their wealth and status
  • The death of Miltiades after a failed attack on Paros and the successful taking of Lemnos


Book VII (Polymnia)

  • The amassing of an army by Darius after learning about the defeat at Marathon
  • The quarrel between which son should succeed Darius in which Xerxes I of Persia is chosen
  • The death of Darius in 486 BC
  • The defeat of the Egyptian rebels by Xerxes
  • The advice given to Xerxes on invading Greece: Mardonius for invasion, Artabanus against (9-10)
  • The dreams of Xerxes in which a phantom frightens him and Artabanus into choosing invasion
  • The preparations for war, including a canal and Xerxes' Pontoon Bridges across the Hellespont
  • The offer by Pythius to give Xerxes all his money, in which Xerxes rewards him
  • The request by Pythius to allow one son to stay at home, Xerxes's anger, and the march out between the butchered halves of Pythius's son
  • The destruction and rebuilding of the bridges built by the Egyptians and Phoenicians at Abydos
  • The siding with Persia of many Greek states, including Thessaly, Thebes, Melia, and Argos
  • The refusal of aid after negotiations by Gelo of Syracuse, and the refusal from Crete
  • The destruction of 400 Persian ships due to a storm
  • The small Greek force (appox. 6000) led by Leonidas I, sent to Thermopylae to delay the Persian army (~5,283,220 (Herodotus) )
  • The Battle of Thermopylae in which the Greeks hold the pass for 3 days
  • The secret pass divulged by Ephialtes of Trachis in which Hydarnes uses to lead forces around the mountains to encircle the Greeks
  • The retreat of all but the Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans (forced to stay by the Spartans).
  • The Greek defeat and order by Xerxes to remove Leonidas's head and attach his torso to a cross


Book VIII (Urania)

  • Greek fleet is led by Eurybiades, a Spartan
  • The destruction by storm of two hundred ships sent to block the Greeks from escaping
  • The retreat of the Greek fleet after word of a defeat at Thermopylae
  • The supernatural rescue of Delphi from a Persian attack
  • The evacuation of Athens assisted by the fleet
  • The reinforcement of the Greek fleet at Salamis Island, bringing the total ships to 378
  • The destruction of Athens by the Persian land force after difficulties with those who remained
  • The Battle of Salamis, the Greeks have the advantage due to better organization, and less loss due to ability to swim
  • The description of the Angarum, the Persian riding post
  • The rise in favor of Artemisia, the Persian woman commander, and her council to Xerxes in favor returning to Persia
  • The vengeance of Hermotimus, Xerxes' chief eunuch, against Panionius
  • The attack on Andros by Themistocles, the Athenian fleet commander and most valiant Greek at Salamis
  • The escape of Xerxes and leaving behind of 300,000 picked troops under Mardonius in Thessaly
  • The ancestry of Alexander I of Macedon, including Perdiccas
  • The refusal of an attempt by Alexander to seek a Persian alliance with Athens

Book IX (Calliope)

  • The second taking of an evacuated Athens
  • The evacuation to Thebes by Mardonius after the sending of Lacedaemonian troops
  • The slaying of Masistius, leader of the Persian cavalry, by the Athenians
  • The warning from Alexander to the Greeks of an impending attack
  • The death of Mardonius by Aeimnestus
  • The Persian retreat to Thebes where they are afterwards slaughtered (Battle of Plataea)
  • The description and dividing of the spoils
  • The speedy escape of Artabazus into Asia.
  • The Persian defeat in Ionia by the Greek fleet (Battle of Mycale), and the Ionian revolt
  • The mutilation of the wife of Masistes ordered by Amestris, wife of Xerxes
  • The death of Masistes after his intent to rebel
  • The Athenian blockade of Sestos and the capture of Artayctes

Translations of the Histories

  • in classics.mit.edu full text of all books (Book I to Book IX)
  • George Campbell Macaulay, 1904: Project Gutenberg
  • librivox audiobook, vol. 3
  • excerpts;2003, revised by John Marincola
  • Harry Carter, 1958
  • David Grene, 1985
  • Walter Blanco and Jennifer Tolbert Roberts, 1992
  • Robin Waterfield, 1998
  • Shlomo Felberbaum, 2003 – work in progress: full text
  • Andrea L. Purvis, 2007

Manuscripts

  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 18
  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 19
  • Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099, early 2nd century AD - fragment of Book VIII

External links

  • AD. Godley translation with footnotes: Direct link to PDF PDF (14 MB))
  • Herodotus' Histories
  • unabridged online audiobook.
  • Herodotus' Histories: the 28 logoi

Notes

See also

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